Mindfulness – Helping our Students Perform Better
Want to improve concentration, be more focused, feel less anxious and even perform better overall? Well let me introduce ‘Mindfulness’ to you.
Mindfulness as a concept has been around for centuries however it’s a real buzz word at the moment and it seems everyone wants a piece of the action – but what does it really mean and how could our HSC students benefit from it.
What is it?
Mindfulness is a Buddhist-inspired introspective concept that emphasizes active attention on the moment to keep the mind in the present. In simple terms… it’s about paying attention to the present moment rather than be distracted about what you did yesterday and what you have on tomorrow.
Why do it?
Over the last few years there have been a lot more research into the effects of being mindful. It is scientifically proven that mindful meditation for example has benefits such as fewer distractions, less anxiety and more focus.
The benefits of being mindful for our students can include:
Less mind wandering while learning and studying.
Performing better on tasks that test working memory.
A better comprehension of reading texts.
Less anxiety and stress.
Enhances concentration and attention.
More empathy and self awareness.
Better ability to view information from different perspectives.
Think more creatively.
How to do it?
Mindful Meditation – many resources online (included a little exercise on the video below).
Relaxation – go for a walk or sit in the park or by the ocean and just focus on the environment around you.
Breathing – Sitting or standing take at least three slow deep inhales and exhales while concentrating on your breaths.
Divert Distractions – Do one task at a time and switch off all distractions.
Make regular become irregular – brush your teeth using the ‘wrong’ hand, carry your bag on your ‘other’ shoulder. It’ll feel different but your brain will mindfully thank you for it.
What types of organisations are using Mindfulness?
The U.S. Marine Corps are trialing at program at the moment called
‘Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training’ or ‘M-Fit’ to use techniques to allow the war fighters to think more clearly under fire when they are often forced to make quick decisions that could mean life or death, and help them reset their nervous systems after being in combat.
Google run a course called ‘Search Inside Yourself’ to elevate the work and lives of their staff. Deeply rooted in science, the course is designed to help Googlers reduce stress, increase wellbeing, heighten focus and creativity, become more optimistic and resilient, build fulfilling relationships, and ultimately become happier and more profitable in their work and their lives.
And lets not forget world class athletes who have been using mindfulness techniques for many years to reach and maintain peak performance.
Ultimately its not just about finding techniques that help our students perform to their best but to also be present whilst enjoying and participating at the highest level, in the life that is around them right here and now.
There are heaps of free resources online – this short video gives an exercise into mindfulnes.
I also love http://smilingmind.com.au/ which is a really cool website on modern meditation for young people. It provides a simple tool that gives a sense of calm, clarity and contentment. They also have a fantastic free app that’s worth checking out.